The Knicks’ season doesn’t start for another six weeks or so. But diehard fans can catch several Knicks in action this weekend.
Jalen Brunson, Josh Hart and Team USA will face RJ Barrett and Team Canada in the FIBA World Cup Bronze Medal game Sunday. It tips off at 4:40 a.m. EST, so it will take a strong commitment to watch this game live.
Of course, none of the Knicks listed above wanted to be playing in the early game on Sunday: Team USA and Team Canada both hoped to play in the gold medal game (for Team USA, it was an expectation).
But Team USA didn’t defend well enough in a loss to a tough German national team in Friday’s semifinal. A few hours earlier, Barrett and Team Canada lost to Team Serbia.
It was a particularly disappointing loss for Team USA. The Americans couldn’t handle Germany’s size, giving up 12 offensive rebounds that led to 25 second-chance points. Team USA relied on small lineups through most of the tournament (Hart starting at wing over Brandon Ingram and Jaren Jackson Jr. starting at center). The strategy hurt them against Germany.
Team Canada struggled defensively on Friday. They allowed Serbia to shoot 62 percent from the field and 45 percent from beyond the arc.
Poor defense from the North American teams set up a Knicks-centric bronze medal game.
With Barrett facing off against Brunson and Hart, we talked to a scout about what they’ve seen from each player and how their play could impact the Knicks season…
ON BRUNSON: “He had a rough sequence in the third today and they went away from him to close. I think the starting unit, generally, hasn’t looked great but that doesn’t fall on Brunson. It’s more a product of the roster. As far as how it may impact the season, guys who play in these tournaments traditionally start fast but feel fatigue midseason. I’d keep an eye on that with Brunson.”
ON HART: “He was part of the rough sequence in the third that hurt (Team USA). But outside of that, I thought he gave you a Josh Hart game. He rebounded, was disruptive on defense. I didn’t see anything that stood out (positively or negatively). For the NBA season, it’s similar to (Brunson). Guys have started out well after (playing in FIBA) but they have hit walls midseason. (The Knicks) are going to play Hart big minutes, so it’s something to watch.”
ON BARRETT: “He has been up and down throughout their games, but he seems to be able to play through (any struggles). I see that from him (with the Knicks) a lot, too. He keeps grinding (through off shooting games) and that’s a good trait, to me. I really liked his second half (against Serbia). Nothing really stood out as far as the NBA season. His shooting mechanics seemed a little different in terms of where he set his feet, so that’s something. But it’s the same thing (mentioned with Hart and Brunson). … These guys have played a lot since (the start of last season).”
EMPOWERING LI YOUTH
Great event in Westbury on Friday night as Unique Sports Management International hosts its annual Long Island College Scholarship Gala. The event honors the work of Torrel and Lisa Harris, who, along with a group of sponsors and donors, provide support for the Joseph Toles Foundation and Terresita L. Johnson Memorial Scholarships. The fundraising supports underprivileged youth in Wyandanch, Uniondale and Hempstead along with students from the adoption agency “You Gotta Believe.”
BROWN JR. SIGNS
The Knicks waived Obadiah Noel on Friday and signed Charlie Brown Jr. Noel was on an Exhibit 10 deal and will likely land with the Westchester Knicks, New York’s G League team. Brown averaged 19.8 points, 6.3 rebounds and 2.0 assists in four Summer League games with the Knicks. New York has 21 players under contract at the moment.